The United Kingdom’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has released a report into an incident last year when a co-pilot of an Airbus 319 experienced an anxiety attack on approach to Glasgow. The plane was landed successfully by a single pilot.
The anxiety attack the co-pilot experienced was triggered by an occurrence on a flight from Glasgow to Palma de Mallorca the previous day, the report indicates. On that day, on approach to Palma de Mallorca, a change in the wind displaced the aircraft towards the runway edge, prompting the commander to take control and perform a go-around.
As it was the first time he experienced this, the event left the co-pilot feeling anxious. On the return flight to Glasgow on September 30, 2018, the commander mentioned wind shear, which “might have caused” the co-pilot’s anxiety to develop into a panic attack, the report suggests.
Unable to continue to operate the flight, the co-pilot left the flight deck, while the commander declared a PAN1. With the help of ATC and cabin crew, the aircraft was landed successfully by a single pilot and medical help was given for the co-pilot by emergency services on the ground.
Investigators found that at the time, peer support or employee assistance program was offered for the airline’s pilots, they were new and the co-pilot was not aware of them. The report also indicates that while the two pilots have talked about emotional issues the co-pilot was experiencing, “they did not communicate effectively”.
“The opportunity for the incident to occur might have been reduced by the co-pilot reporting unfit for duty, more effective communication between the co-pilot and the commander, and use of support available from peers or one of the official assistance programmes,” is stated in the conclusion.
“Experiencing a panic attack does not necessarily preclude someone from holding an aviation medical but, once known, the condition must be declared and adequately controlled,” the report states. After receiving support from the airline, his AME and “other” medics, the co-pilot was allowed to return to flying.
While the report does not mention which airline it was, planespotters.net data indicates that A319 with registration number G-EZGR belongs to EasyJet.